On Tuesday 17 November the Watson’s Against Racism webinar took place, through our new online platform GWC Plus.
The webinar’s focus was to update the school community on progress since the summer in making Watson’s an actively anti-racist school, including presenting findings of research about our history and heritage.
Following on from his statement regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, Principal Melvyn Roffe outlined the need for a reevaluation of the narrative around the school’s heritage, and our founder, George Watson.
Head of History, Bobby Chaudhry and Hugh Ouston, author of George Watson’s profile in the Dictionary of National Biography, presented the findings of their research into the life and legacy of George Watson.
He did indeed have direct links to the trade in enslaved people, his life span overlapping with the major expansion of the involvement of Scotland in the trade.
Interesting points were raised about the focus of Founder’s Day and whether it may be the time to acknowledge the means by which George Watson obtained his wealth.
The attendees heard from a former pupil, Amy Allard-Dunbar who is delivering an anti-racism course to Senior 5 and Senior 6 pupils. She also spoke about the creation of lunchtime safe spaces for black and pupils of colour. Our pupil anti-racism ambassador Emma (S6) also spoke about the benefits of these additions.
Project 810 Director, Emilie Robinson, gave details on ‘Decolonising the Curriculum’, which aims to challenge, where appropriate, our perceived wisdom in a variety of subject areas. The aim is to identify opportunities for greater representation and gaps where viewpoints are missing all together.
As a school, we are proud of our former pupils, and our archivists are working hard to uncover previously untold stories about Watsonians of colour.
Catherine Stratford, Honorary Heritage Officer, presented some of the stories including one about Agnes Savage, who was the first woman of West African heritage to become a doctor and is listed amongst the 120 greatest ever Nigerians.
The webinar then moved on to contemporary Watsonians, and former pupil Keshav Arvind reported on the creation of a BAME Watsonian Network.
The event ended with a question and answer session which brought up many interesting discussion points between the attendees.